Interview: Marcos Tanaka | Inside Music - March, 12th 2020

Inside Music (Mar 12th, 2020)

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Quick note: Following last week's interview with Chad Hillard on starting a record label, I'll be trying to incorporate more original interviews on a regular basis. Anyone you'd like to hear from? Click 'reply' to shoot me an email with any suggestions for people or areas of interest.

1. Interview: Marcos Tanaka is the developer of the app MusicHarbor. He shares insights he's gleaned from the music app and told me about some other apps he's digging at the moment.

What’s your elevator pitch for MusicHarbor and who is the app for?

MusicHarbor is an app that aggregates new music releases, music videos, concert dates and news in a single place, so you can be up-to-date about your favorite artists.

It’s an app for people who used to rely on top charts or playlists to find new music but realized that they are missing a lot of great releases that have been flying under the radar.

It’s also for those who use social network feeds to get releases, news, or concert announcements, but wish there were a single place, free of ads, algorithms, and user tracking, from where they could directly, and more reliably get this information.

Have you noticed any trends or patterns with music releases? What insights do you have about the change in how artists release music?

Based on the number of active users each day of the week, I already had a feeling that most new music is released on Friday. But I was curious to see if that has always been the case. So I ran a quick analysis on the artists I’m following, and the releases they have done since 1990, and the result is image #1.

Looks like in the 1990s, new music used to drop on Tuesday, and from 2000 to 2015, releases were almost scattered throughout the week. It’s only from 2015 onwards that new music began to drop almost always on Friday.

The type of the release (album/single/EP/remix) has also changed in the past 30 years. The result is image #2.

New singles are released in much more quantity and frequency today, as opposed to the 1990s, where the majority of new releases were of full albums. *A note on the data used is below.

What’s the most common feedback from users and what features are the most requested?

They like the straightforward way that MusicHarbor presents new music: it’s a chronological list of every single new release from the artists they follow. I don’t use any algorithm to try to optimize for engagement, popularity or other factors, that would, in the end, only confuse the users.

Regarding new features, one of the most requested is Spotify integration. You can use MusicHarbor if you use Spotify (or if you don’t use any streaming service at all), but integrations such as the ability to import artists, and add new songs to the library or to a playlist, only work with Apple Music.

Users also want better support for Concerts, such as the ability to filter based on a customizable radius from the user’s current location. I’m working on improvements in this area, that’ll be released soon!

What are 2-3 of your favorite recent music apps?

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with third-party Apple Music clients like Marvis Pro and Soor. These apps allow me to customize the layout and rearrange sections in a way that Apple’s Music app doesn’t.

For example, I’ve composed my Marvis’s Home screen with three sections: Recently Added, Top Songs, and Hot Tracks. And, since I’m using it the most on my iPad, I can see on a single screen the latest releases I’ve found using MusicHarbor, and also the top songs and hot tracks right now on Apple Music. This way I can get a good mix of new music from both, artists that I already follow, and new artists that I don’t know yet.

* This data was obtained through MusicHarbor using an Apple Music API. The data applies to 3,500 albums from 71 different artists — 41% Hip-hop/Rap, 38% Pop, 8% Alternative, 8% Dance/Electronic, 4% R&B/Soul.

2. Coronavirus update: The disease is now officially a pandemic. I'll be tracking how it is affecting the music industry on an ongoing basis.

  • Both Coachella and Stagecoach have officially been pushed back to October. (If it were up to Elon Musk though, Coachella would “postpone itself” until it stops sucking.)
  • SXSW canceled last week but has now confirmed it won't be offering refunds for purchased tickets. Instead, ticket holders can defer 2020 tickets until 2023.
  • Zac Brown Band is postponing their spring tour.
  • Pentatonix are canceling the European leg of their tour.
  • Bikini Kill are rescheduling their March tour.
  • Disclosure announced a new tour earlier this week and has now canceled it due to coronavirus/Coachella cancelation.
  • BMI postpones Latin Awards Show.
  • Treefort Fest has been postponed.
  • Celine Dion postponed tour dates, though she tested negative for coronavirus after feeling ill.

3. News: Disney has acquired the rights to Peter Jackson’s Beatles documentary, "The Beatles: Get Back." The film will be released on September 4 and will look at the recording of the band's final album, "Let It Be." Jackson worked in cooperation with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon, and Olivia Harrison while pulling from 55 hours of unreleased footage from 1969. The film will also feature the band's final live performance as a group together which took place on a Savile Row rooftop in London. — BILLBOARD

4. Trends: You can now create your own hand-washing lyrics poster in a few easy steps. Type in a song and artist and the website will automatically fill in the lyrics under the images of how to wash your hands. Wash Your Lyrics was created by William Gibson, a British teenager, which has now gone viral after bands like Rage Against The Machine have used it to adapt their lyrics to the hand-washing poster. The site has also been used by McDonald's, Netflix, and The Book of Mormon. — MUSICRADAR

Tyler Hayes is a writer and early adopter in both music and technology. He's based in California and has contributed to Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and Billboard, among others. You can reach out at @TylerH.

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